Stim by Kevin Berry |
Published by Waspie Publishing Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Official Synopsis: Robert is different. He has Asperger’s Syndrome. He experiences the world differently to 99% of the population. Follow his entertaining and highly empathetic story as he struggles to realise and accept who he really is, try to understand other people – which he cannot – and find a girlfriend. Especially find a girlfriend – he’s decided it’s his special project for the year. Accompanied on this transformative journey by his quirky flatmates, Chloe (who also has Asperger’s, amongst other things), Stef (who hasn’t, but doesn’t mind) and their oddly-named kitten, Robert endures a myriad of awkward moments in his quest to meet a nice, normal girl…and not even a major earthquake will stop him. This absorbing and humorous story is starkly told from Robert’s point of view, through the kaleidoscope of autistic experience.
My Thoughts: Robert is a university student with Asperger’s Syndrome who is struggling to understand and navigate the Neuro-Typical world of Christchurch, New Zealand in 2010. His goal for the year is to get a girlfriend, but things don’t always go as planned. Luckily he has his best friend, Chloe, and her cousin Stef to help him.
Stim is told through journal entries, some containing flashbacks to events that happened months before in order to give the reader a greater understanding of the characters and their motivations. What makes this story so incredible is that the author, Kevin Berry, has Asperger’s like the main character and gives Neuro-Typicals a wonderful insight into the mind of an Aspie. All of the characters were incredibly realistic and relateable in different ways. You do not need to have, or know someone who has, Asperger’s Syndrome (or is anywhere on the Autism Spectrum) to find yourself getting caught up in this story.
There were times reading this story when I wasn’t sure how to feel because while Robert’s inability to understand certain situations may cause some seemingly comedic or scary moments to an outsider, Robert, and others with Asperger’s are left confused and my heart felt like breaking. These contradicting emotions also helped to give a sense of how those living with someone who Asperger’s, such as Robert and Chloe’s flatmate Stef must feel, and how frustrating it can sometimes be.
The setting of Christchurch, New Zealand during 2010, and the first of the earthquakes that have devastated the city, is a great one. It shows how quickly things can change, how life goes on, and how people come closer together in such hardships. I have a personal connection to Christchurch during this time period in the form of a friend who lived there and whom I was greatly worried for – especially when she would send me messages about the horrible aftershocks they were experiencing, or show me pictures of the devastation. The people of Christchurch are still recovering and rebuilding from the first earthquake and many aftershocks, and though Stim only briefly focuses on the first few, hopefully it will help bring greater awareness to the situation.
Final Words: Stim is an honest and emotional portrayal of a young man with Asperger’s and living in Christchurch during the beginning of the devastating earthquakes that have rocked the city. It is also incredibly educational without ever feeling forced. A must-read!
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